by Ray Poynter
1 February 2019 – In a wet and windy Amsterdam last week, the new ESOMAR Council had its first independent meeting. President, Joaquim Bretcha, chaired the meeting and shared his vision for where ESOMAR should be heading over the next two years. Joaquim’s vision builds on the work of previous Councils and focuses on the need to embrace the changes being created by an increasingly digital age. At the heart of the vision is the need to continue to widen the scope of ESOMAR to include data analysts and data users. ESOMAR is quite rightly ahead of the curve on data protection issues and the responsible use of data, an issue which is currently very much at the top of the agenda for data focused organisations (see Finn’s article about this at Davos here). We need to build on this and lead the way globally on the ethical use of data.
We started by taking our own medicine and looking at our own data; Xabier Palacio, ESOMAR’s Senior Industry Analyst, presented a summary of the results of the most recent membership survey. This found that about 90% of members were satisfied (some fully and some partly). But the balance between fully satisfied and partly satisfied has shifted towards partly, compared with earlier years. So, we have work to do. Three headings accounted for 90% of members’ desires: !1) Knowledge; (2) Access to the industry (commercial); and (3) Networking (general). These three are the priorities for both the Council and ESOMAR’s staff over the next two years.
Supporting the Representatives
As a global organisation ESOMAR’s local presence depends upon a team of volunteers; the Representatives. These people are fundamental, providing us with essential information on local and national issues and opportunities and acting as the conduit through which ESOMAR provides grass-roots value around the world. The team agreed that greater emphasis (and support!) needed to be placed on Reps, for example by providing more guidance and “best-practice” for facilitating local ESOMAR communities. The best Reps are great. There are plenty of Reps who could be even better if they had a clearer grasp of what is needed and access to best practices. And there are a few Reps who need to either up their game or move aside. As a recent Rep in the UK, new Council Member Lucy Davison agreed to work with the ESOMAR team to help the focus on Reps.
Growing the USA
Although it is home to a large number of ESOMAR Members (583 individual and 55 corporate), the USA represents over 40% of global market research (by spend), so those numbers should be higher. We want to continue to connect more USA-based researchers with the global benefits of ESOMAR, in addition to the benefits they can find locally.
Anybody who has been following the trade news will know that the Canadian market research association, MRIA, went bust last year. A group of nine Canadian research companies have stepped up to help create a new body, CRIC, and they have turned to ESOMAR as a partner. We are hoping there will be a high degree of coordination between CRIC and ESOMAR – more news soon.
The Council agreed the budget for 2019. In discussing and voting on this, the Council recognised that 2019 could be a very difficult year; for the global economy, for companies and individuals. Consequently, we will be paying even more attention to monitoring revenue and expenditure in 2019.
Who Does What?
The meeting allocated responsibilities and created work groups for the next two years. The core leadership team – otherwise referred to as the Executive Committee is:
- Joaquim Bretcha – President
- Kristin Luck – Vice-President
- Anne-Sophie Damelincourt – Treasurer (elected from the Council)
Niels Schillewaert, as the immediate Past President of ESOMAR is on Council ex-officio. He will be leading a review into how ESOMAR Council elections are held in the future, investigating the ways canvassing should be conducted, what should the membership of Council be, and how long the term of office should be.
Joaquim has created four work groups and two key portfolio responsibilities;
- End Clients– This group will focus on ensuring that ESOMAR becomes ever more relevant to end clients, that our activities meet their needs, and that the changes that are happening client-side are supported. This group will be led by BV Pradeep and supported by Niels Schillewaert and Lucy Davison.
- Market Research Agencies and Suppliers – Most of ESOMAR’s members and most of the revenue for our activities comes from market research agencies and the suppliers of services to the market research industry (such as panel companies). This working group will align ESOMAR with the needs of agencies and suppliers. This group will be led by me (Ray Poynter) and supported by Umesh Kumar.
- Data Science – To expand the scope of ESOMAR to encompass the wider uses and analysis of personal data, we will build bridges with the data science community and organisations. This working group will be led by Joaquim Bretcha and supported by Alain Mizrahi and Kristin Luck.
- YES/Diversity – A success story from the last few years has been YES (the Young ESOMAR Society), a move which has resulted in a significant growth in the number of young members. This working group, led by Nikki Lavioe with Nijat Mammadbayli, will also focus on wider diversity issues, including the need to create a code of conduct for personal behaviour.
Two important “portfolios” were created, to allow Council to better understand and appreciate the needs from both the regions and the ESOMAR Foundation. The regions will be supported by Council members from that area, who will help the local Reps and associations meet the needs of local markets. And two members of ESOMAR Council now sit as members of the Foundation Board, charged with having a “watching brief” over its activities; these are Kristin Luck and Nijat Mammadbayli.
So, there’s a lot to do, but the team is excited about the task ahead. We’ll continue to post updates on progress so please, watch this space!